The family business
The story begins with a business alliance between two London families in the reign of George III. One had as its patriarch James Flood, a cabinet maker. His wife appears to have been Cebella. The head of the other was Joseph Schaller, a ladies’ shoemaker. His wife was Ellen Elizabeth Schaller.
A miraculously preserved business card advertises their partnership as “Auctioneers, Surveyors, Estate Agents, and Valuers.” In a word, they liquidated estates, and if we believe the card, the business was established in the final year of the rule of George III, 1810. We’ll recall that the future George IV ruled as Prince Regent from 1811 until his father’s death in 1820.
A close reading of the card suggests that among other things they repaired and then staged properties for resale, like Regency Property Brothers. The breadth of services they rendered also suggests agile contractors, though a shoemaker and cabinet maker might well have started out personally providing some of the work they advertise. I infer that the card represents a stage where these entrepreneurs had accreted a lot of services to an original core of offerings.
The card itself is a study in the quality of even ephemeral work at the time. The text appears to sit on a six- or seven-lobed couch with cushions and pillows leaning on a central pillar, tassels here and there. The astonishing variety of “fonts” no doubt pleased the Victorian eye and, I suppose, advertised the agility of the engraver, who’s maintained a pleasing symmetry.
The business address given on the card did not survive World War II and London development; it was a middle-class address then in swinging Fitzrovia. In fact, Charles Street is no longer there, nor was it even in the time of the 1893-1896 Ordinance Map. However, the Museum of London ‘London Street Views 1840’ site has dedicated space to interpreting a complicated situation. We needn’t follow the detailed argument here.
Looking at the older map, you see Middlesex Hospital, and Mortimer Street, which takes a bend then runs in front of it. The Google Maps extract shows Wells Street at center, with good access to the Cartoon Museum. On this map, Mortimer is labeled A5204, and the hospital has been torn down (in 2008). Older street directories, however, indicate that the section of Mortimer running between Wells and Cleveland Street on the north (thus including the façade of the hospital), and between Newman and Wells on the south was in fact Charles Street Middlesex Hospital. Looking back for a moment to the 1893-96 map, you can see a dotted line running roughly parallel and close to the bent end of Newman. That line actually shows how far east Charles extended.
In this case, we can place the Floods and the Schallers in 1840, for which we have addresses. James Flood was at number 8 Charles Street, the second door on the north side of Charles east of the intersection with Nassau Street on the 1896 map. Schaller was across the street at 19 Charles Street, which was the fourth property on the south side east of the intersection with Wells. The business address at number 11 was the third property on the north side, west of the intersection with Nassau Street, though it was not yet there in 1840.
An advertisement for Flood and Schaller auctions and sales in 1855 lists a second address, at 11 Crawley Street, near Oakley Square.
I cannot find a Crawley Street on the modern map of London, but Oakley Square is still there very near the Mornington Crescent Underground station in the old St. Pancras Borough. Here is a map, with Oakley Square bounded by Oakley Square Street and the A400.
UPDATE: My esteemed friend Dr. Danny Jones has consulted a digitized mid-1890s historical map from the National Library of Scotland, discovering a Crawley Mews that once ran within the block just south of Oakley Square. The Camden Historical Society publishes a web page of renamed and demolished streets, and it turns out that Crawley Street is now known as Eversholt Street, which is the long street running diagonally from upper left to lower right in the map extract below.
Joseph Schaller is listed among the dead for 1851 in the Civil Register Death Index:
The business partnership continued with Joseph’s son, Cornelius Robert, in his place and was solemnized in the new generation by the marriage of Flood’s daughter Ellen Elizabeth to Cornelius Robert on 6 January 1852. Since Joseph had died, we naturally see the Floods listed as the witnesses:
And because it will be useful in many later posts, here is a copy of Cornelius Robert’s baptismal certificate, establishing his birthdate as 17 October 1830. It’s worth noting that the address is given in 1831 as Charles Street:
The final reference I have to the business appears to show it quite reasonably having passed to the sons of both 1810 principals by 1856. It is a notice in the North Wales Chronicle of an annulled bankruptcy of James Flood, junior, and Cornelius Robert Schaller. An annulment implies that after a declaration of bankruptcy, Flood and Schaller had satisfied their creditors, so it is not evidence that they ended up in the poorhouse. In fact the Schallers, at any rate, seem to have gone on and done well enough, to judge by their later London addresses.
Further research indicates that the business underwent a drumbeat of bankruptcy proceedings and reorganizations in the 1860s. In 1863 we find Brooks, Beal, and Schaller breaking up with Beal paying the debts. In 1866, Brooks and Schaller, both reported to reside at 25 Charles Street, St. James’s Square, were subject to bankruptcy proceedings. In 1869 we find a final bankruptcy lodged against Schaller, again listed at 25 Charles Street, St. James’s Square. Within a year Schaller was on a boat to the USA. I believe that the notation St. James’s Square is a misapprehension by the London Gazette because by then Charles Street at Middlesex Hospital had formally been changed to part of Mortimer Street but Schaller was still giving the Charles Street address. Number 25 would be on the south side, almost directly across the street from the old Flood house.